Maki Itoh Discusses AEW, Miyu Yamashita, Coming To The US, Minoru Suzuki, And More | INTERVIEW

Maki Itoh has taken the professional wrestling world by storm over the last two years, whether it is due to her memorable appearances in AEW or her unbelievable work in her home promotion Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling. She's managed to become a fan favorite and one who only gets more and more attention as she competes in matches and sings her entrance theme as she makes her way down to the ring.

Itoh has been a core part of the TJPW roster since the beginning of 2017, working on her craft and becoming one of the best storytellers wrestling has seen. Her accolades inside the squared circle include being a two-time International Princess Champion, six-time DDT Iron Man Heavy Metal Champion, and the winner of the 2021 Tokyo Princess Cup. It was the win of the Tokyo Princess Cup that brought her to the main event of TJPW's Wrestle Princess II, where she competed against her tag team partner Miyu Yamashita for the Princess of Princess Championship.

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The TJPW star has competed on a number of shows as of late in the United States, including Prestige Wrestling, GCW, JCW, and of course AEW, where she entered the Owen Hart Foundation Women's Tournament as a surprise, losing to eventual winner Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. in the opening round.

Prior to her debut in GCW as part of their Homecoming weekend, Fightful's Scott Edwards had a chance to interview Itoh about her time in AEW, her relationship with Miyu Yamashita, and so much more.

Here's what Maki Itoh had to say in our interview:

Q: What makes TJPW so special in your opinion?

A: It’s a very enjoyable place and wrestling that doesn’t hurt anyone.

Q: What’s your favorite part about coming to the United States? Outside of wrestling, what has been your best experience in America so far?

A: Just being myself is fine. It's not that I dislike Japan but while it's good to do some things the same as everyone, but there were many challenges too. I felt a sense of freedom being in America and I could express myself the way I want to. Going to America made me love myself and everyone else more than I usually do.

Q: International fans want to know more about Maki Itoh outside of the ring. When you’re not wrestling, what do you do and what are some of your hobbies?

A: It's true that I don’t really show my private life a lot (laughs) Well…I enjoy going to the arcade. I like Pokemon so I usually try to get the Pokemon plushies.
Also, I enjoy anime and manga. Recently I finally started Toy Story (laughs) It really makes you tear up right?

Q: The style of wrestler you’ve become over time is so unique and connects with fans. Is there anyone or anything you attribute that to as you’ve become one of the best in TJPW?

A: Five years of Idol training as base and training and learning language. Understanding the fans’ reactions is probably a big factor, one which I learned as an idol. I also feel you don’t have to be too rigid about the fundamentals but practice is important. For language, English is mostly used around the world so if I only used Japanese it wouldn’t be able to reach the fans who don’t understand. With English, I can definitely reach to a lot more so I do my practice.

Q: You were unable to compete in the Tokyo Princess Cup this year due to your GCW debut later this month. Were you upset that you couldn’t defend your tournament win after winning last year?

A: Not at all. In a sense, I could move on to my next challenge.

Q: At TJPW YES! Wonderland, you teamed with Miyu Yamashita to face Hikaru Shida and Moka Miyamoto. Based on your interactions, it seemed as though yourself and Shida are destined for a singles match. Would you like to face her in a singles match soon?

A: I would love too. At AEW.

Q: What has your experience been like in AEW?

A: It changed my life. Ever since I first went there, my dream to shine on a world stage was much clearer, and many people who didn’t like me appeared. However, many fans said also they loved me too. It definitely changed my life.

Q: You and AEW’s Thunder Rosa have history from her time previously in TJPW. You’ve both even exchanged tweets back and forth on Twitter. Are you hoping to face Rosa again in the future?

A: Of course! But all I can only imagine myself losing to her, so I hope to build up more experience until that time comes.

Q: Miyu Yamashita and you have built a strong bond together — as a team and going head-to-head. Can you give fans a look inside why you guys are such a great team but also rivals in the ring?

A: We respect each other, and our dreams are going in the same direction.

Q: Do you consider Yamashita your greatest rival?

A: I think so!

Q: You came up short against Miyu Yamashita for the Princess of Princess Championship in the main event of Wrestle Princess II. What is more important to you moving forward in your career — beating Yamashita someday or winning the Princess of Princess Championship? Or are they both important to you as you grow as a wrestler?

A: Both are important but…I think beating Yamashita is more important right now. Even if I win the belt, if it means losing to Yamashita I wouldn’t be satisfied. But if I get a win over Yamashita, one of my dreams would be over and that’s scary. So I hope that Yamashita would always stay the strongest. (laughs)

Q: Wrestle Princess III is coming up soon. Who would you like to wrestle at the event? Do you want to team with Miyu or try and get your title back from Alex Windsor?

A: I would like to challenge one of the top TJPW wrestlers. I’ve been recently going against foreign wrestlers, and I rarely got to go against TJPW wrestlers in a singles match. So I’d like to do that. Itoh is really strong right now and I bet they’ll be surprised to see how my experience I’ve gained.

Q: You’ll be making your GCW debut soon. How excited are you for it and what should the fans expect from you?

A: “The Maki Itoh” experience I bet. They’d love to see that thing that keeps circulating the net in person.

Q: What are your goals moving forward in wrestling? What about outside of wrestling?

A: I want the -entire- world to know that Maki Itoh is the cutest in the world. A figure of Maki Itoh. Outside of wrestling? Saving money.

Q: At the start of this year, you teamed up with Minoru Suzuki. How was that experience and would you like to again in the future?

A: He’s really frightening, but I think he really likes me. He actually praised me after the match (laughs) I would love to do it again!

Q: You’ve had the opportunity to face some new faces from outside of TJPW as of late. Can you name one non-TJPW wrestler in Japan and one wrestler outside of Japan that you’d like to face in the future?

A: In Japan? Minoru Suzuki. Outside would be Orange Cassidy

Q: Thank you for taking part in this. Are there any final words you'd like to share?

A: Thank you for loving Maki Itoh so much. Thank to that I’m able to eat such good food. I’ll continue to wrestle in such a way that keeps everyone happy. Who’s the cutest in the world??

A huge thanks to Maki Itoh for taking part in this interview with how busy her schedule is. And yes, Toy Story does make us cry. And thanks to TJPW for once again helping make another interview happen as we continue to do our best to spread the world of Joshi around the world through their own words.

If you are interested in seeing more Maki Itoh, you can subscribe to Wrestle Universe, which features all of TJPW's live upcoming shows, including Wrestle Princess III on Oct. 9, as well as DDT and Pro Wrestling NOAH action as well.

Itoh's most recent AEW performance came on this week's AEW Dark: Elevation, where she teamed with Emi Sakura against Hikaru Shida and Skye Blue. You can check that out here.

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